What’s a Biodiversity Hotspot?

A Biodiversity Hotspot is a region with a significant reservoir of plants, animals, and other life that is under threat from humans.


Biodiversity hotspots are home to irreplaceable and threatened plants, animals, and landscapes. Many also represent an opportunity to conserve the largest and most intact representative of their ecosystem.

To qualify as a biodiversity hotspot, a region must meet two strict criteria:

  1. It must have at least 1,500 vascular plants as endemics — which is to say, it must have a high percentage of plant life found nowhere else on the planet. A hotspot, in other words, is irreplaceable.
  2. It must have 30% or less of its original natural vegetation. In other words, it must be threatened.

Around the world, 35 areas qualify as hotspots.

They represent just 2.3% of Earth’s land surface, but they support more than half of the world’s plant species as endemics — i.e., species found no place else — and nearly 43% of bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian species as endemics.


Want to know more?

Watch this video from California Academy of Sciences about biodiversity and its distribution around the world.

To take your knowledge further, dive into their mini-class on biodiversity.


Biodiversity hotspots are fundamental to the work of the World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, to name just a few.

Visit their websites to find out what they are doing to preserve and protect Biodiversity Hotspots.



Myers, N., Mittermeier, R., Mittermeier, C., da Fonseca, G., & Kent, J. (2000). Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature, 403, 853-858. FULL PAPER

Williams, K.J., et al. (2011). Forests of East Australia: The 35th Biodiversity Hotspot. In Zachos, F.E. & Habel, J.C. (Eds.). Biodiversity Hotspots: Distribution and Protection of Conservation Priority Areas. (pp. 295-310). Springer. FULL PAPER

Marchese, C. (2015). Review paper: Biodiversity hotspots: A shortcut for a more complicated concept. Global Ecology And Conservation, 3297-309. doi:10.1016/j.gecco.2014.12.008 FULL PAPER

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